NZ’s online advertising high priest goes bush

Michael Gregg, chair of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and advertising director at Trade Me, will be stepping down from both roles in August, swapping acronyms and tech-speak for boating, skiing, fly fishing, the collection of delicious fruits of the sea, the removal of old man’s beard and the long overdue doing up of his bach in Havelock in the Marlborough Sounds.

There’s no acrimony involved in his decision to go bush. Gregg, more commonly known as MG, has simply heard the call of the wild and, ever the entrepreneur, hopes the break will give him some much-needed entrepreneurial headspace to “projectivise” and think about the next big thing.

“I’ve been planning this for some time. We’re calling it a trial. And we’ve been telling people it’s going to be trial for six to eight months, but we’ll see how it goes. “

He’s already got a few work trips lined up in Auckland and he plans to return to the big smoke in March, although he says it could be a permanent move to Marlborough, something made possible by the combination of grabaseat and broadband, which he says is faster at his bach than it is in Oriental Parade in Wellington (probably because he’s the only one using it down there).

“Advertising always pulls me back,” he says.

Gregg, who’s spent 15 years in the advertising industry, including five years as chief executive of telecommunications technology start up MediaLab and a stint as interactive director at Clemenger BBDO in 2006, joined Trade Me in late 2007 with the goal of getting their display advertising business to be taken more seriously. And he says that goal has been achieved: there are now 10 staff in the division (it was a new division when he started); Trade Me has doubled its ad revenue across the sites; and it’s definitely New Zealand’s biggest website.

As for his replacements, Gregg says Trade Me typically aims for “internal succession”, unless it’s trying to expand the business line, but no announcements have been made yet. As for the IAB, he will be officially stepping down at the AGM in August.

For now, he’s happy to exchange the Tweeting more regularly seen in Auckland for the tweeting in his slice of South Island nirvana.

“Amazingly still day in paradise. Birds actually, really, properly, tweeting.” he recently tweeted.

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